A Challenging Budget

On Monday, our school board approved a preliminary budget for the 2016-2017 school year that takes the unusual step of raising taxes above the limit set by the state government. The administration did not make this recommendation lightly, and the board debated its merits thoughtfully and thoroughly. I want to explain several of the reasons for this move.

Appreciative of Teachers–Past and Present

13-Merle-EshIt is national Teacher Appreciation Week, and I join people all over our country in saluting teachers who touch the lives of millions of children every day. We are fortunate at Conestoga Valley to have so many caring, innovative, supportive teachers in our schools. I invited our school board president, Merle Esh, to join me in thanking to our teachers.

As I consider the influence that so many teachers have had in my life and in the lives of my daughters, I am eternally grateful.

STEM Should Be Systemic

IMG_7831 (1280x853)This week, I had the opportunity to view some exciting new technology that our high school science and technology education teachers could implement next year, thanks to a grant from the Conestoga Valley Education Foundation. More generally, this technology is just a small part of how we are infusing STEM learning into much of what we do in our classrooms.

Every Day is Earth Day

Stream-CleanupFriday, April 22 is Earth Day, and that means our high school students will be conducting their annual clean-up of the Conestoga River at West Earl Park in Talmage. In recognition of this date, I invited our supervisor of science and technology education, Dr. Dan Daneker, to share more on how this initiative fits into our science curriculum.

For the past 22 years, our students have helped clean up the Conestoga River in honor of Earth Day, but our class motto is, “Every day is Earth Day.” Our students know they need to think of their impact on the Earth all year long!

Two Teachers on PSSA Exams

PSSA Opt OutAs I wrote earlier this week, standardized testing is a hot political topic, and teachers are often caught in the middle of conflicting positions. I welcome thoughtful debate on this blog, and I want to reiterate what I said at the beginning of my previous post: We trust parents to make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of their children.

Today, I invited two Fritz Elementary teachers, RtII mathematics and reading coordinator Ashley McDonough and reading specialist Pam Loose, to share their perspectives on the PSSAs.

On ‘Opting Out’

This week, our students in grades 3-8 begin taking exams that are part of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, commonly known as PSSAs. There is an effort by outside groups to influence parents to “opt out” of having their children take the exams. I trust parents will not react to pressure from either side of the issue but will do what they feel is in their children’s best interests.

Sunday, LNP published a step-by-step guide for parents who do not wish to see their children tested. The article is wrong in concluding that students who refuse to take the test do not affect the scores for the school.

Making this place home

IMG_7389This morning I had the opportunity to offer the gratitude of our school community to an important group of individuals: our Volunteers in Action! For more than 40 years, this group of volunteers has supported our students, teachers, administrators and staff in making a difference. My guest today is one of those volunteers, district VIA coordinator Katrina Krasinski.

Home is not a building. Home is where the heart is, home is a feeling of unconditional support. Home is where we gather with family & friends. Home is where we feel happy and share laughter.

VIA is our home, and we are all connected.

A State Budget–And Not

While it is not my intent to make this a forum for commentary on the state budget, this year has been confusing, and I continue to field questions about what the political back-and-forth means for Conestoga Valley. I hope all of these issues are resolved soon, but for the moment, we have a state budget—but not all the funds we expect.